TWENTY-TWO

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Bruce was back on duty at the gate while Steve did a perimeter check, walking the long fence line that enclosed the ten-acre property. He knew Virginia was still inside, having spoken to the boss on his way out just after dawn.

It was turning into a beautiful day, still and warm, an indication that spring was just around the corner. He tilted his head to the sun, appreciating the peaceful quiet while trying to clear some of the cobwebs from the previous night's drinking.

Steve's voice on his two-way broke the morning calm. "There's something on the wall back here, looks like . . ." A beep severed the connection.

Bruce held his breath, now agitated by the silence.

Another beep. Then, "Rubber!"

Bruce spun on his heels to look at the house. The concrete fence was eight feet tall and had an electrified cord running across the top of it. Rubber could be used as an insulator.

Someone had come over the wall.

Movement caught his eye. The drapes in Mark's bedroom window were closing. Further in, a shadowed figure walked past the shrinking opening.

It wasn't her.

He hauled the radio to his mouth as he ran to the gatehouse. "Someone's in the house," he shouted.

Inside, he slammed his palm on the button and threw down the hand-held before bursting out the back door and tearing off toward the house as fast as his legs would carry him.

)l(

Virginia stepped out of the shower, feeling rejuvenated after lingering under the warm spray. She wrapped herself up in one of Mark's large bath towels and headed toward his bedroom. As she passed under the archway separating the two rooms, she looked up, sensing a—

Walt was standing stock-still in the middle of the room, feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips. Waiting for her.

"Walt?" Her eyes scanned the rest of the room. "What are you doing here?"

She pulled the towel tighter. He was oddly disheveled, dirty even, wearing work clothes that looked slept in. His eyes were unreadable, shadowed by the ball cap pulled low on his forehead.

"You disappoint me, Virginia," he said in a dark voice. "I knew I would find you here." He wagged his finger at her.

That was when she noticed the latex gloves.

A flicker of dread shot up her spine. "I was still shaken up from yesterday and—"

"Shut up!" he yelled, making her jump. "I don't want to hear your excuses anymore!" He crossed the distance between them and walked behind her, taking hold of her wrist. Concentrating on keeping the towel on, she didn't have a chance to react before he grabbed the other and—

The feel of hard metal and a soft click told her what he had done.

He leaned into her shoulder and whispered, "How does it feel to be locked in your own handcuffs?" Seizing her jaw in a rough grip, he pushed his face into her hair and inhaled. "God, you smell good," he murmured, his hot breath hitting her ear.

"Walt . . . wh—what are you doing?" She strained against the handcuffs even though she knew it was futile.

He stayed silent for a moment before moving around in front of her again. "You know I tried being the nice guy." His head tilted from side-to-side in time with, "Sweet. Obedient. Walt." He sighed. "For years I sat there, hoping you would notice me. Do you know how many women I've fucked over the last few years?"

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